The statue of David at the Academia in Firenze is the nearest thing to perfection that I have ever seen. The fresh pasta dish of Amalfi cooked al dente in olive oil, garlic, sundried tomatoes and warmed through fresh tomatoes did such an exquisite dance on my taste buds that talking became an intrusion. Roma, where every time you turn a corner, there is an architectural delight to behold. The world-famous fashionistas of Milan who have engrained accessorizing in the culture so much so that wearing a t-shirt and jeans, one becomes a fashion plate. Listening to the operatic pop of Il Divo while sipping on a glass of Vino Noble di Montepulciano, the nectar of Tuscany, is bewitching to the senses. I’m on my way to Italy. I love, love, love this country. Even the language is mesmerizing as words roll off the tongue in a poetic waterfall of romance. My favorite Italian phrase is ‘Buona Serra’ because it’s music to my ears.
The century’s old buildings of Italy are painted the colours of a sunset – yellows, golds, oranges. Whilst in Florence we were inspired to paint our house like an Italian villa so we chose a colour called golden umber. In UK-speak, the colour is marmite meaning you either love it or hate it. We love it; our neighbours who live in white houses, hate it.
“I feel like I’m in a different country” said Charlotte, my stepdaughter whilst lounging by the swimming pool surrounded by our garden walls, all golden umber. I’d say that is a decorating result.
We are not travelling to Italy simply to relish in its beauty; the purpose of this trip is to celebrate with another beauty, my lifelong friend, Cyndi. Both she and I have wanted to hike the villages of Cinque Terre for some time. Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera and comprises 5 villages and a national park. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. There are no cars, only boats, trains and walking along the spectacular trails as a way of transport.
Hiking the Cinque Terre with our husbands is how we have chosen to celebrate our 60th birthdays together a couple of months early to take advantage of the weather. Both born in November, our birthdays are 10 days apart. Cyndi likes to point out that I’m the oldest. :>) We’ve known each other since we were 5 years old when we became school mates. We grew exceptionally close in junior high school with our antics on the cheerleading squad.
Cyndi currently lives on Vancouver Island with her third husband, Kevin. He’s a keeper; the love of her life. It’s his second marriage. Both retired, keen golfers and avid hikers, they lead an active life full of travel and adventure in supernatural British Columbia. Cyndi was bullied a lot as a child and young teenager. She is a testament to ‘damn the adversity – I will have a great life’ mindset. #youcanifyouthinkyoucan
Tony is my number 2 and I’m his number 3. He is concerned that old rugby injuries combined with lack of flexibility will hamper the trek. My darling husband can easily row 10 km a day but walking is not his forte. His calves scream after a long walk. We are a great pair. Between my clangs, bangs and surgeries I never know how my body will respond. We are not competitive in this regard so we will bump and grind our way through the Cinque Terre. Happily, I located a massage therapist in Monte Rosso al Mare, our base.
4 people, 10 marriages = a lot of life lessons and that wisdom is the beauty of age, often not realized until one is of a certain age. With the wisdom of hindsight, I realize my lessons have been plentiful with an enormous amount of pain and pleasure. Life has never been boring.
The tapestry of my life isn’t shades of beige. My threads of experience are multi-coloured and multi-faceted with some threads being thicker, some thinner, some full of knots. I’m reminded of a song:
“My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue. An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view. A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold. A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold.” – Carole King lyric from her album Tapestry, 1971.
1971?!! Where does the time go?
I remember Cyndi and I as 14 years old’s playing scrabble and drinking tea until the wee hours of the morning. Because I couldn’t afford ‘real skis’, I remember her rubbing wax on the bottom of my wooden skis so I wouldn’t stick to the Spring snow of Grouse Mountain. We were two of several cheerleaders jumping on a bed in our motel room during a basketball conference, breaking it, then being sold off as slaves in high school to pay for it. The front row of Elton John concert at the Pacific Coliseum especially exciting. We had skipped school to get tickets. I remember the weddings, the births, the divorces and the people we have lost along the way. Trips to San Francisco, Alaska, Barcelona, St. Malo, Bucharest, the Camino …
I trust Cyndi. I can count on her. She is the sister I never had but do have. We’ve cried together through life’s twists and turns. More importantly, we have laughed together… laughed until we cried, a lot! I sometimes wonder if we would be friends if we met today. realize that that thought doesn’t serve me at all. It’s of no use because she is and has been in my life for 55 years now and we are about to embark on another joyful experience.
We have choice. Some people let life happen to them. Others take charge and create their lives. Cyndi and I are take-charge people and perhaps that is the deep bond between us? Whatever it is, as we celebrate our 60th year, my life bucket is chock-a-block with gratitude for Cyndi and the memories we are about to make in Italy with i nostri mariti by our side. Bellissima!